Four seniors from the same family will graduate together from Hollister High School in May.
If that is not remarkable enough, the Schultz siblings — Michael, 18, and triplets Allison, Brooklyn, and Samantha, 17 — are academically ranked No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 in the Class of 2022.
The four, born just eight months apart in 2003, are student leaders who have made their mark in different ways.
“As a group, they set an example for the other kids in the building because of that drive, because of that work ethic, because of that character,” said Principal Jared Terry. “No matter what they’re in, they’re in a leadership position.”
Terry said the siblings have a variety of interests and have found ways to stand apart.
“They’ve each found their own little niche but collectively they just bring so much to our student body,” he said. “They’re really kids that you can point (out) to freshmen and sophomores and say ‘Hey if you want to be successful, look at them and follow their lead.'”
All four are in the National Honor Society and have packed resumes based on involvement in a wide range of student groups. Here are the highlights:
Allison, the valedictorian, is the color guard captain in the marching band, which competed at high levels this year. She is on the student council and secretary of the Future Business Leaders of America.
“I’m in AP,” she said, of advanced placement courses. “My biggest accomplishment is AP. I pretty much pushed for an AP Calculus II class.”
She plans to study accounting or finance and was recently admitted to the University of Notre Dame. She was selected in the first round, one of 1,675 students picked from the 9,683 applicants.
Samantha ranked No. 2 in the class, is president of FBLA, dance coordinator for the student cabinet, and performed in show choir. She is part of the agronomy team, which went to nationals last year.
“That was a really big accomplishment,” she said. “This year we are hoping to go as far.” She plans to study interior design or plant science at the University of Arkansas.
Ranked No. 3 in class, Brooklyn is editor-in-chief of the yearbook and an accomplished photographer who has worked with the Branson Globe and Branson Tri-Lakes News.
“I’ve had a Facebook page called Brooklyn Schultz photography for three years now,” she said. She is frequently booked for shooting senior pictures, engagement photos, and local events.
She plans to study journalism and has been accepted to the University of Missouri. Her goal is to work internationally as a photojournalist.
Michael, the student body president, is ranked No. 4 in the class. He has played football as well as basketball and golf.
He was selected to attend Missouri Boys State and be part of the Missouri Leadership Seminar. The Academic All-State student-athlete wants to study law.
“I received my congressional nomination from Billy Long to get the chance to apply to the United States Merchant Marine Academy and the United States Military Academy,” he said this week. “I will find out if I get into either of them anywhere from January to April.”
‘Grandma prayed too hard’
The story of the family starts in Doniphan, nestled in the Ozark foothills in the southeast part of Missouri.
The parents, Stan and Kathy Schultz, already had son Patrick — currently a student at Benedictine College — when they welcomed Michael in April 2003.
Three months later, Kathy went to the hospital thinking she had a bad stomachache.
“She was like ‘Doctors I don’t know what is happening’ and then they had an ultrasound and they’re like ‘Well, actually you’re pregnant — and, wait, with triplets,'” Samantha said. “My grandma prayed for girls and they got girls.”
Brooklyn added: “We always say ‘My grandma prayed too hard.'”
Twins and triplets do not run in the family so the surprise was overwhelming at first. The pregnancy was difficult.
The triplets arrived on Dec. 21, three months early, but just in time for Christmas. Samantha was first, followed quickly by Allison. They each weighed 2 pounds, 7 ounces. Brooklyn, at just 1 pound, 6 ounces, was last.
There were serious health complications. Allison and Samantha remained in the hospital until early February. Brooklyn did not get to go home until mid-March.
Of Brooklyn, Michael said: “Her middle name is Faith because she had a life-saving surgery on Christmas Eve.”
That night, in the hospital room, the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” was playing.
“So, we watch it every year now,” Brooklyn said.
‘We want to do our own thing’
Despite having triplet girls and a son less than a year apart in age, the siblings said their parents raised them as individuals.
Each child has their own room. The triplets share a striking similarity but do not look or dress identically. With vastly different styles, they rarely share clothes.
They have sidestepped other multiple-birth clichés as well, like trying to fool teachers by swapping classes.
“We were so adamant when we were younger, and still now, that we want to do our own thing,” Samantha said. “We all have completely different interests.”
Their parents also insisted the children do their best, explore their talents and find ways to give back.
“They say all the time ‘We are not going to get mad at you for getting a slightly lower grade than you always get,” Samantha recalled. “But, we are going to get mad at you if you don’t try.”
Michael said his parents set high expectations with their example. “Our mom got all As from fourth grade through college and our dad is an engineer. Part of the drive is from them.”
The seniors were in fifth grade when the family moved to Hollister.
The parents relocated to the community based on academic and extracurricular options available in the school district.
“When we moved in, we were included in everything right off the bat,” said Michael.
The four siblings believe their close relationship and competitiveness have helped them all excel academically.
“It’s like a game,” Samantha said.
Allison added: “We’re competitors. We’re pretty much just pushing each other all the time to be better because we don’t want to be the worst.”
Despite being the oldest, Michael was not as competitive at the start of high school.
“Freshman year, I was 26th in class,” he recalled. “On our first report card, they were all, like, I don’t know, top 5 or something.”
Allison added: “We made fun of him quite a bit.”
Michael interjected as the others laughed: “They absolutely ripped me to shreds, OK? I have not gotten anything other than an A+ since my freshman year.”
‘Cherish those conversations’
Over the years, the family has created many traditions but the most important may be at the dinner table.
“We all eat dinner together,” said Brooklyn, noting their grades are a frequent topic, especially when two or more siblings are in the same class.
All four of the siblings work part-time jobs in the area at places such as Silver Dollar City, Chick-fil-A, and Top of the Rock.
The siblings said dinner occurs when everybody is finally home from school or work —even if it’s not until 8 p.m.
“That is something my parent’s stress … Even if we’re mad at each other, we’re going to sit down and have a family meal together,” Samantha said.
“It has brought us so close and I will always cherish those conversations.”
With graduation just five months away, the reality of parting soon has hit each one of the siblings.
They have tough classes, leadership positions in extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs.
But they have been making time to get together this year. And they’ve been celebrating each other.
“Our whole lives we’ve been trying to be different from each other,” said Brooklyn. “Like he’s a history buff. We have an art person, we have a math person, an English person.”
During an interview with the News-Leader, the four took turns bragging on each other and pointing out accomplishments others forgot or were too modest, to mention.
The siblings said they realize the constant togetherness — and all the support and the motivation they’ve gained from it — will be gone, or at least different, next year.
In the fall, they’re planning to be on college or military campuses hundreds of miles apart. They are enjoying the time they have now.
“Us girls will go eat breakfast in the morning. We’ll have study sessions at the Landing (in Branson). We’ll have, like, random 2 a.m. talks in somebody’s room,” Samantha said. “That is what I am going to miss the most.”
Claudette Riley is the education reporter for the News-Leader.